Soccer: Russian offers Croatia incentives to beat England
A Russian billionaire has offered incentives to Croatia for beating England in their final Euro 2008 Group E qualifier on Thursday (NZ time), a result that would give Russia a chance to reach the finals.
Spartak Moscow owner Leonid Fedun said he would donate four Mercedes cars to Croatia's best players if their team comes away with a win at Wembley.
Russia had been in the driving seat following last month's shock win over England in Moscow but lost the initiative after a 2-1 defeat by Israel in Tel Aviv on Sunday. They must now beat Andorra and hope England lose to Croatia.
Not many in Russia, however, believe that already-qualified Croatia, who lost 2-0 to Macedonia in Skopje on Sunday after securing their passage to Euro finals, have the ability to beat England at Wembley.
Fedun said he simply wanted to boost Croatia's morale by offering their goalkeeper and the top three field players each a Mercedes. Croatia goalkeeper Stipe Pletikosa plays for Spartak.
"I'm doing this strictly as a fan," Fedun was quoted as saying by the Russian media. If we have even a small chance we must try to use it."
Israeli media reported that English bookmaker Fred Done had promised a Mercedes to the Israel player, who scored a winning goal against Russia.
However, the Israeli FA said Omer Golan, who struck the injury-time winner, would not be able to accept the gift because it was deemed to be "beyond the bounds of sportsmanship".
(link to more on the original offer at BookieLabrat.com)